When Wanaka stole my heart: Otego, New Zealand


Nothing beats the feeling of falling in love at first sight. For me, I seem to fall in love with places rather than men but that doesn’t stop me searching! 😉 The small town of Wanaka has become the latest love of my life after a rather brief visit with my friend Steph. The road to Wanaka felt like I was on a simulator. That’s not to fault Steph’s erratic driving, although that didn’t help (!), but the road that weaved past an array of twists and turns. This did make me slightly worried about my planned cycle tour around New Zealand as I most certainly want to visit Wanaka but there is absolutely no way my legs would make it over those mountains.


Wanaka lake front

The view that greeted me was totally worth it as the road in to Wanaka emerges onto glorious Lake Wanaka. Snow-capped mountains surround the lake providing a jaw dropping backdrop for a picnic on the shore. Us girls opted for a warmer lunch at Kai Wahakapai on the lake front where we shared a satisfying pumpkin roll.


Beautiful Glendu Bay

I had heard about a single tree that has become Wanaka’s most photographed shot thanks to social media. It even has its own hashtag #thatwankakatree so being the social media geek that I am, I just had to check it out.



Now I have a bone to pick with the folks at Wanaka tourism as it took me a good hour to find the Wanaka tree. The leaflets at the local tourism office pinpointed the key photo spots with, what appeared to be, a useful numbering system. As it turns out, there was nothing to say what each number was. Baffled I resorted to Google and it was only thanks to a photography forum that I found the tree I had been looking for. So two lessons were learnt that day. Things never look as they do on Instagram and Wankaka tourism need to hire me to assess their marketing material. 😉


Spotted: idiot abroad

Of course, there’s always that nutter who feels the need to strip down to his very ravishing red under crackers and go for a dip in ice cold water just for pure “bants” or banter as they call it these days. We came to the conclusion that this fella was either an Aussie or American. We couldn’t work out whether he was drunk (an Aussie) or just stupid (American) or quite possibly, both.


Steph and me

After spending the majority of the day in the car, I suggested we park a few kilometres along the shore from the town centre and walk in. This also meant we didn’t have any restrictions with parking as you can only park for up to two hours in town. Of course, all walks need to be rewarded with a drink and by then it was time for something stiff.


Gin and Raspberry cocktail – bliss
Unfortunately we only had time to stop at this lovely little hotel for a loo break

I quite liked the look of Gin and Raspberry, a fancy cocktail bar over looking the lake. “Oh this is far too posh for us” Steph said. The cheek of it! It certainly wasn’t too posh for me. We splashed the cash (that we didn’t have) on two signature Gin and Raspberry cocktails, which as you may have guessed, contained Gin and Rasberry. I don’t particular like Gin but this cocktail was to die for so I had another.

Steph was driving so it was vital we got some food inside us and we had only had half a pumpkin roll at lunch so we were due a good feed. I suggested we go to a Japanese a friend recommended as Japanese food is delicious and Asian food is one thing I miss living on a farm. Unfortunately they were fully booked and so was everywhere in Wanaka on a Tuesday night, so it seemed. After 30 minutes of trying numerous restaurants we had no choice but to settle for the Mexican, Amigos, which wasn’t too disastrous as I love a good Fajita. Unfortunately the fairly expensive fajitas were pretty darn poor and resulted in numerous toilet stops during the two and a half hour drive home. Not me may I add, I have a stomach of steel, as you know from my previous travels in India.
My trip to Wanaka was far too short for my liking and I would love to go again to enjoy some of the hiking trails around. There’s a handful of national parks, lakes and wineries dotted about close by which means you could easily spend a week or two here. Log cabins and cosy huts give a real sense of “wilderness” and add in the laid back apres-ski vibe making Wanaka, in my eyes, the perfect Winter getaway.



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